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Kreativ and Versatile

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any thanks to Helen Howell and Steve Green for giving me a Kreativ Blogger and a Versatile Blogger award, respectively. These two wonderful people obviously have great taste and a near goddess-like / god-like ability to detect fine fiction. That, or I owe them both a large selection of cream cakes and a hug. You should immediately read their fiction, or your lives will be ever so slightly diminished.

Moving swiftly on, in order to promote said awards, one must reveal a number of unusual factoids one has about one’s person – which, in my case, are still lingering despite the use of a strong steroid cream – and then nominate a number of new award recipients.

So, in no particular order, I present TEN UNKNOWN THINGS ABOUT MYSELF:

  1. I once accidentally gate-crashed a coven. Going to a party in a derelict building I turned up early and discovered some red drapery, weird stuff in boxes, etc. But I’m early and no one’s around, so go catch up with some folk in the pub. Returning to the party venue, I found all that strange stuff had gone, which kind of freaked me out. It turned out I’d gone into the identical house next door. They were, I was assured, white witches.
  2. I used to collect agate and other semi-precious stones as a kid. At a burial mound in the Highlands, I found a primitive tool (probably a knife) made of chipped agate. It was in a tiny, sandy spring. I subsequently lost this pretty awesome thing in the rest of my stone collection…
  3. While diving off the coast of Malta I found three of the largest cockroaches you’ve ever seen in my diving costume, swam as the head of a shoal of saddled sea bream (not one nose was further ahead than the other) and fed the fish a couple of packs of Twisties (a bit like Nik Nak crisps, in the UK) from the deck of sunken tug boat. The boat was resting on a bed of white sand, the crisps were compacted flat with the water pressure. It was exactly like feeding pigeons. Nearby, the Virgin Mary looked on – a statue put there by fishermen.
  4. Also on that Malta trip I did a night dive on a tanker (the Um El Faroud) that’s been sunk as a natural reef. It was at the limit of non-decompression diving; the propellers were a storey high, we swam through the interior – saw the bunkhouse and corridors, and swam out through a hatch. Back on shore our guide tells us that the world’s largest great white shark was caught by local fishermen within a few hundred yards. There aren’t any sharks in the Mediterranean sea, but this one had somehow gotten in. It was a monster. I saw a photo of it hanging from a crane. It looked exactly like Jaws.
  5. I once dressed as a girl and – as part of a team – pushed a bedframe around the Edinburgh Meadows for charity. I discovered that tinned tomatoes do really nasty things to your skin as we were required to throw miscellaneous foodstuffs at other teams. Looking at photos afterwards, I was rather appalled to find I made a very credible female. Thankfully, I look a bit craggier now, sans Minnie Mouse T, mini skirt and makeup.
  6. I once fell in quicksand as a kid – not something I was expecting to encounter in Scotland. I was ‘up north’ staying at a bothy, and a reservoir had been drained. Walking on the bottom of the gorge was fine – it was all rocks – and I came to a small riverlet which looked to be about 1” deep with a sandy bottom. I took a step out and practically vanished. Luckily, having watched quite a few Tarzan movies, I knew not to struggle, thought ‘light thoughts’ and kind of tried to stay on top of the sand, making as big a surface area as possible. I managed to eek myself out. Thanks Tarzan. It was entirely serious.
  7. I once caught six or seven mice by hand. The flat I was in was overrun and the vermin were so precocious I could chase them with an empty cornflakes box, corner them and pop them in. Cereal box loaded with skritchy rodents I then wandered Edinburgh city centre looking for a place to dump them: along the way I found a sub-basement (where I was about to chuck ’em only to look up and find a bunch of office workers working late, staring at me out of the windows, paused mid photocopy); a back alley (only to find a security camera on an accountancy company zoning in on me); and at last, a flower box next to a multi-story carpark where I finally got rid of them. In the distance, a couple were wandering along hand-in-hand while the flowerbox next to me was rustling and springing away in a very excited manner. I left prior to the couple-mouse encounter. Squeee!
  8. As a student, I was once entirely fooled by a confidence trickster who – with whatever lame story – convinced me he was trapped in Edinburgh and needed some funds for bus travel. Offering his shopping (a bag of shirts) or a small silver ring he had on him as collateral, he persuaded me to draw out some cash and give it to him. This taught me lots of things, but I sure darned wished I’d taken the shirts which probably would’ve peaked him, as I bet no-one ever took those… and it did look like his actual shopping.
  9. Our cat used to bring back mice in a very much alive and slightly ticked-off state and then lose them in the house (it used to get everything, including river rats, bats and on one occasion, a mole). You’d be watching the telly and a field mouse or a vole’d run past the skirting – somewhat misplaced from traditional cornfield. One day, a mouse is dropped off by the cat – and we see it happen – and we hunt high and low for the little critter, but it’s gone. We figured the cat must’ve doubled back and eaten el-rodenti like a cocktail canapé. Maybe eighteen months later, we find the mouse as flat as paper and as wide as a tea plate under the sheepskin rug. There were four paws at each ‘corner’ and it was mummified… Ew!
  10. Hanging out with some of the Beltane folk, in Edinburgh, we went to the Hermitage for another of the Celtic festivals – I can’t remember which. It was at night in a wooded, country area on the fringes of the city. There was maybe twenty of us and there was fire, and juggling, music, acrobatics. Laughter. It was a truly awesome evening and, as I left, alone, walking down off the hill, a white barn owl flew directly towards me through mist as flat as a table top. It was flying right on the junction of mist and air, and its wing beats caused swirling vortexes in the moisture. It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen: utterly mesmerising and utterly silent.
  11. BONUS FACT: I was walking down through the Edinburgh Meadows one morning when I spotted a squirrel sitting on a tree root – this wasn’t that unusual, except for the fact it was holding up a tiny advert for King Cornetto in its paws. Double take. In fact, it was the circular lid of a King Cornetto.  The writing was precisely upright and it made the perfect, squirrel-sized ice cream ad – I mean, I read the ad and then considered what was holding it. Impression registered, the squirrel started casually licking the back of the lid for the ice cream. For a moment, I thought the advertisers were losing their subtlety (or I was losing my sanity). Damn you Walls for deploying cute forest creatures in the promotion of your whipped, creamy products. Of course I had to go buy one… (le sigh)

And now to nominations. I am somewhat conscious that I’m not entirely widely read on the blogging front, however I do know what I like. While there are a near infinitude(1) of folks who deserve a shiny new badge, I pick the following for their Versatile and Kreativ leanings, complete with a kapital ‘K’, as well as being those I’ve read somewhat more recently.

I would say if you were nominated for these hallowed halls, don’t feel under pressure to pass things on, unless you feel so inclined – feel free to bask in the glow of righteous nomination, throw up the badge (or not), or preserve this entire affair as a guilty secret between just us two and billions of squirrels whom, having navigated the complexities of marketing, are now spending their ice-cream profits to get on line and read these very blogs.  I salute you my fluffy-tailed, praline munching friends.

Nom, nom, nom, nominations:

And there you have it.

Next week, more about acorns and how to find them (2).

Stephen 🙂

***

(1) Dear God, I made that up and it turns out ‘infinitude’ is a real word. Well there you go. That’s what I want to see written on my next squirrel-borne placard – something that makes you think, while also delivering a ‘huh?’

(2) That Arboreal Rodent Award is tough to get – I’m starting early with the voters.

 (*) Update (04-Aug-2012). I’d originally left these two out, thinking I couldn’t return the reward to the giver, forgetting, of course, that I can give the opposite award to the other  there’s two awards here. St

 

 

August 3, 2012   8 Comments

The Café, One Year on

Happy Anniversary to me, Happy Anniversary to me, Happy…. manamam ma… Happy .. nana to me…

Woo hoo!

It’s a year to the day that I posted my first Café Shorts post: Boris, a story about a very literate dog. Not even sure anyone ever read it, because, at that point, the site had the same profile as a side-on piece of paper. But I’ve been getting a few readers since then.

So thanks to all of you who have been popping by, reading and/or putting on comments. You’re obviously the most attractive and intelligent people on t’ internet. Obviously. I love you guys and gals (big, over emotional hug). And the fact that I’ve had some eyes on these stories has helped me a whole lot in getting my ass in gear, keeping me focussed and giving me some writerly confidence. Now when folk ask if I’ve written anything, I can point them here without my mumbling about stealthily writing in cafés, or their having to power up an Xbox.

Until I put this site on line, I was pretty much only writing my own stories for my own amusement. Then, after quite a few years – some of which spent whining in journals, some creatively; most of it over a chocolate muffin and a decaf latte* – I figured I was going to be writing, ‘no matter what’, so better try doing something with it. Then, as bizarre as it sounds, I ‘remembered’ about the Internet. Doh! I should have been on years ago, but I was writing analogue. Inky fingers, etc.

So, hopefully, for more plus years, you’ll bear with my tendency to use ‘five words where one would do’ while I keep wearing my ‘I (heart) Magical Realism’ T-shirt. Meanwhile, I’m loving all those other stories – the epically cool stuff you folks are writing out there on t’ internet – or knowing you’re scratching your way through reams of paper, old style.

To cap it off, it’s also been ten years (to the day) since myself and my girlfriend have been hanging out and flicking cheese at each other. That’s a lot of cheese.

Lovely lady; awesome aim with brie,

Stephen.

 

* No, not the same chocolate muffin. Man, it would be like… a fossilized tyrannosaurus turd, by now.  And that latte… ew; skin like a buffalo’s behind…

September 22, 2011   15 Comments

The Versatile Blogger Award

versatile blogger award

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he marvellous Steve Green over at The Twisted Quill has awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award. So thank you very much Steve.

I recommend you go check out his writing, too.

But, before you dash off…

As per the rules, I have to write seven random facts about myself, and then nominate other bloggers to receive the award. So, in a rough chronological order (apart from the ‘thumb thing’):

  1. When I was three, in Malaysia, a rusty nail got stuck in my heel. I threw up out of a car window and had to get a tetanus injection in my backside. My mother tells me the throwing up and the nail were separate incidents.
  2. When I was seven, I managed to clobber my younger brother with a half brick when I was down in the coal cellar of our house. I was hiding and trying to startle him but the throw developed a hypnotic accuracy. He needed stitches on his scalp, and I felt my parents were most unfairly upset because I was so mortified. The ice cream trajectory in Tiger Tempura was based on this memory.
  3. I used to play a game of ‘collapsing bridges’ with my brothers and sisters (which basically meant putting a sofa-chair close to a wall, piling duvets, cushions and pillows over  the gap and then – while one of us crawled underneath – having the others gradually collapsing the ‘bridge’). At one point, after they collapsed the bridge and jumped up and down on the mound with me trapped underneath, I developed mild claustrophobia which I still have to this day.
  4. At twelve or thirteen, I was climbing up a vertical wall of hay bails in the middle of the night, when a tractor came into the barn with its lights blazing. I fell thirty feet and rattled my spine down a stack of potato crates. Stunned and winded, my friend desperately tried to stop me groaning in agony. We didn’t get caught by the farmer, but, after escaping across the fields, I found I had managed to lose a lot of skin off my back.
  5. I can pick up four chicks in each hand, simultaneously.
  6. As an evil experiment, working on Earthworm Jim, I wrote some broad, Glaswegian dialogue lines for Dan Castalanetta and his Groundskeeper Willie voice. The results were hysterical, though not pretty.
  7. I have two mutant thumbs: one won’t bend past forty-five degrees at the first joint, the other is hyper-dexterous. The doctor said that a defect in one place with over-compensation in the other is quite common. I’m still waiting for the rest of my super-powers to develop.
  8. BONUS FACT: I’m occasionally mistaken for Fran Healy out of Travis (which I can understand) and Chris Martin out of Coldplay (I don’t know why). At T-in the Park, while my girlfriend was having a loo break, I was mistaken for both of them by a couple asking directions…

So, to nominating other bloggers. Tricky – I’m always so busy, I never get to read as many blogs as I should, although those I do read I enjoy immensely. You talented people.

Some of those listed here have been nominated already, so feel free to quietly and smugly accept the fact that I admire the daring level of your versatility without your having to re-transmit the VBA meme. I’d rather pick from the full selection of folks I can comment on.

  1. John Xero over at the Xeroverse has created some lovely writing and some beguiling philosophical exposes. The Xeroverse has just been celebrating its first birthday. Read quietly, he may have a temporal hangover…
  2. Icy Sedgwick at Icy’s Blunt Pencil is the very definition of versatility, with many an intriguing writerly creation on the go, from flash fiction and photos, to author interviews and novellas. How she has the time to do everything she does, and read and comment on other stuff, is beyond me.
  3. Aidan Fritz at Aidan Writes is a man who can pull a compact and fully realized world out of the bag like nobody’s business – each world a perfectly crafted miniature. I suspect he lives in his own pocket universe.
  4. Harry at the eponymous Harry B. Sanderford blog can bounce between cactus underwear and deringer-toting bad-gals, with a felicity that will always impress. Rats, cereal, old movies… aye-carumba. I also admire his collaborative powers.
  5. Justin Davies at The Flying Scribbler has exhibited monstrous versatility in his impressive (and now – temporarily – complete) ensemble serial, ‘The Mythical Creatures Employment Exchange’. What happens behind such an intriguing title, you say? Well there was this pink monster, and Santa, and the Kraken and…

For those not celebrated here, the fault is entirely mine: stupidly, I haven’t been reading your blog long enough to comment with more insight, or – in one, particular case – you gave me the award in the first place (thanks again, Steve).

The truth is, this should be a much longer list.

 

All the best,

Stephen Hewitt.

July 17, 2011   7 Comments